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*A legal refugee is someone who has fled his or her country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion. A refugee has to have left his or her home country and been granted refugee status in a country of asylum. The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), is usually charged with responsibility for awarding legal refugee status. Having fled their home country, they are unable to return to that country due to fear of persecution.

Our clients are primarily refugees and political asylees who come to the U.S. from all over the world. The following countries and ethnic groups are represented in our client base: Iraq, Bhutan, Burma/Myanmar, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Russia, and most recently Syria. All of our clients now reside on the North Shore, primarily in the city of Lynn.


Refugees come from diverse cultural, educational, political, religious, and linguistic backgrounds. Each group brings with them different experiences, opinions, cultural beliefs, and capabilities for enriching the city of Lynn. What they have in common is tremendous personal strength and endurance, the will and ability to learn and work, and an unparalled motivation to survive in their new country. However, this population also faces multiple barriers to successful integration. Past traumatic experiences, such as war, torture, years spent in refugee camps, or loss of family members can have a lasting effect and make the transition into a new community difficult.


Some of our clients are highly educated and are eager to apply their knowledge and expertise in a new country, while others lack a formal education and have limited language and literacy capabilities. However, regardless of education, functioning independently in American society can be a daunting task for anyone who is new to the country. We work to provide each of our diverse clients with the skills, cultural know-how, and support they need to settle into their new home and to become an active member of the Lynn community.

RCAM, formerly the North Shore Self-Help Association of New Americans, was founded in 1991 by refugees from the former Soviet Union who resettled in Massachusetts. This group of refugees was determined to help others fleeing religious and political persecution in the former USSR. Since then, RCAM has expanded its services and focus. Today, it provides a wide range of services to refugees from many different national and ethnic backgrounds. Today, its programs are available to all ethnic groups. 


Our mission is to assist newly arriving refugees with integration into American society in every aspect. We strive to accomplish this through the promotion of self-sufficiency, the building of bridges with the target community, and fostering the maintenance of the refugees' cultural identities. In support of this mission, RCAM pursues the following goals:


1. To educate newcomers about American society and culture

2. To promote civic participation and engagement with the larger community

3. To provide much-needed social services, advocacy, economic development assistance, and to facilitate access to mainstream social services

4. To provide avenues for learning, cultural expression, and cultural outreach


The provision of services, intake, and the referral of clients shall be made by the Russian Community Association of Massachusetts without regard to race, color, religious creed, disability or handicap, ancestry, national origin, age, gender identity and/or expression (including a transgender identity), or sexual orientation. Unlawful discrimination has no place at RCAM and is the antithesis of our organization's core values, which includes a pledge to uphold the ideals of equal opportunity and inclusion. All RCAM employees, volunteers, clients, and community members are expected to also uphold these values.

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